British MilBud Cut a Start, the US should follow, and Go Much Further
Nearly every day while I was in London (October 6-12), the newspapers carried stories about the new British government’s budget review. While there was justificable consternation about proposed cuts to education, child benefits, pensions and other human needs programs, the good news was the Tory-Liberal Democrat government was facing up to the reality that cuts in the military budget were inevitable.
The cuts announced earlier this week were substantial, though many would argue they should have gone deeper. Overall, Britain’s military budget of about $59 billion per year (less than one-tenth the US military budget) will be cut by about 8% over the next four years. Ten percent of military personnel will be cut (though the government intends to maintain 10,000 troops in Afghanistan for up to five more years), and cuts to fighter jets, aircraft carriers, tanks and artillery were announced. Our colleagues at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the British-American Security Information Council were pleased (as was I) that the decision on whether to build new Trident nuclear weapons-carrying submarines was deferred for at least five years. Also, the government announced a 25% reduction in the operational nuclear warhead stockpile from 225 to 180.
Other than foolishly retaining a vestige of its colonial past when “the Sun never set on the British Empire” by playing junior partner to the United States’ global military imperium, why in the world does Britain need any aircraft carriers, submarines or nuclear weapons?
Of course, the Big Cahuna in global military spending is the US, which spends about as much as the rest of the world’s countries combined. In December, a deficit reduction commission will report to the president and Congress its recommendations for spending cuts. We’ll need to stay tuned and get active to ensure the bulk of the spending cuts come from our outrageously bloated military budget, rather than from human needs programs and Social Security. More on this soon, as Peace Action and our allies are building an education and action campaign around the commission’s report, which follows on our participation in U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s Sustainable Defense Task Force..